Customer 2.0 meet customer service 1.0

garage doorMany companies’ customer service departments are at odds with where consumers communicate today. As such, they end up frustrating their customers, losing sales, and driving loyalty into the ground. Let me illustrate one such case.

About a year ago, Cassie and I bought a new home. It came with a garage door opener installed. We noticed something quirky about it early on, but fiddled with it a few times and it seemed to work well after that. But the problem cropped up about four month later and then again two weeks ago. I am a guy, so I have my own way of handling such problems.

I should have contacted the company early on, but out of stubborn pride, I kept checking the manual and tried to fix the problem on my own. Last week I finally broke down and contacted them.

I went to their website and clicked on “customer support” and eventually found the same solution that the owner’s manual gave. I then proceeded to their “contact us” page (and was glad they provided this tool), filled out the form and ended up waiting for three days for them to contact me (email meets snail mail).

In my email to them, I fully described what I had done to try and fix the problem (I followed their troubleshooting directions from their manual). The email I got back was a reiteration of the troubleshooting manual – it looked like the standard cut and paste response. The last line of the email said that if I these things didn’t fix the problem, then the logic board had to be replaced.

I replied:

Thanks for the response. I really appreciate your assistance. I followed the directions you sent and I am still experiencing the problem. Actually, we have tried these same fixes two or three times now and the same problem occurs soon after fixing it. How would I go about getting a new logic board?

Their response another three days later (actual email):

Thank you for contacting our Technical Support.  Based on the issue described in your message, it will be necessary to contact our Technical Support Hotline.  You may reach us by calling (800) xxx-xxxx. First, select option 1, then select option 7. This will  bypass the menu and allow you to speak directly with a Technical Support Representative for assistance with placing an order, and any questions you might have.  Agents are available Monday through Friday, 5:00 A.M. until 6:00 P.M. Pacific Time.

What could this company do to improve their customer support?

  1. Understand that email is not the equivalent of snail mail. Customers expect a quick response. We get frustrated when we have to wait. Sure, this might say something about our society, but it is the reality we live in.
  2. Seek to understand the customer’s problem. I indicated in my original email that I had followed their suggested troubleshooting solutions. Why send them again?
  3. Don’t transfer problems; empower your people to solve them. Nothing is more frustrating than having a call or email transferred around from department to department.

Decisions, decisions

As a customer (not a marketer), I now have a decision to make. Do I make the effort to keep calling them? Is it worth my time and effort? Or is it time for me to find a new and better company to do business with? What would you do if you were in my shoes? How would you handle this problem if you were the company?

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